“Design critics now look back at the birth of the Jobs-Ive partnership as the dawn of a golden age in product design, when manufacturers began to understand that consumers would pay more for craftsmanship.”
Dear giant Cypress, I have become a regular visitor of your blog. I thank you for your opinion on the Lee Valley plywood saw. Alas it isn't being sold in Europe. I could not find the Gyokucho S-410 you mentioned either. Your link to the Razorsaw products list is highly appreciated! Our vendors rebrand the saws, though, so it's not easy to compare. Bought a HSS kataba from Dictum/GER but would love to try the plywood saw, too. Any ideas how to buy the plywood saw in Europe? Kind regards, John.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for the nice comments. I really appreciate it.
You may want to try contacting Tools From Japan. They don’t list the S-410 on their site, but they carry many other Gyokucho saws, and may be able to order one for you. They do ship all over, so getting the saw to you in Europe shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Lee Valley can ship to Europe as well. It’s worth contacting them about that possibility.
Hi Wilbur, I've been enjoying your blog for years - long enough to remember your multi window saw. Do you know where to find them nowadays? If not, can you recommend something else? I'd like a saw(s) to break down stock, rip mouldings off boards etc. So rip cuts up to about 3ft and cross cuts, usually in hardwood up to 1" thick. I'm going to get the Lee Valley plywood saw, so maybe that's all I need, but I won't have anything to compare it to. Thanks, Mitch
Thanks for reading, and for the nice comments. I greatly appreciate it.
Unfortunately, the multi-window saw doesn’t seem to be readily available anymore. Too bad, because I really liked that saw a lot for breaking down stock.
Today, for the types of tasks you’re describing, I’ll use either a 270mm ryoba or a 270mm Mitsukawa “Hat Trick” saw. The Mitsukawa saw has a hybrid tooth design that makes it reasonably good for crosscuts and rip cuts (think something similar to a ATB circular saw/table saw blade), although dedicated saw teeth will do a better job. I’ll post more details later, as Tumblr’s back end makes posting pictures in an answer to a question difficult.
By the way, the Lee Valley Japanese plywood saw you mention is the Gyokucho S-410. I’ve tried it out, and it’s a very good saw. It is 240mm in length, so getting a longer saw like the 270mm models mentioned above will make longer cuts easier.
Wilbur, I can't post links here, tumblr won't allow it, but there's a story on VPR (the vermont npr station) about a builder trying to keep the Japanese boat tradition alive that made me think of you…
Thanks! The post went up last week.
Lamination: not just for Japanese tools anymore
I had the chance to visit the Peabody Essex Museum a little while ago, where I saw the Yin Yu Tang house. The Yin Yu Tang house was built by the Huang family in the Huizhou region of Anhui province in China sometime in the early 1700’s. In 1997, the Huang family decided to sell the house. Rather than simply tear down the building, it was disassembled and transferred to the Peabody Essex Museum where it was re-erected. Visitors to the museum can have a close up look at how families in this part of rural China lived.
One of the exhibits that I saw was examples of the tools used to build the house. There was the usual variety of woodworking tools that you might expect: a chisel, a plane, an axe, an adze, a frame saw, a square, and an ink line.
These tools were marked as being from the 1900’s. It’s pretty clear that these tools were not really well-refined. Although they were in a case, I was able to get a closer look at the edges of the chisel and the adze.
Note the difference in shininess between the metal at the cutting edge of the chisel and the rest of the blade. Also note the difference in the rust pattern. I think this is evidence that this chisel was made with a laminated construction, most likely a relatively hard steel for the cutting edge, and a softer steel for the remainder of the blade.
There’s a similar difference in the rust pattern between the cutting edge and the body of the adze, and a difference in the sheen of the metal similar to that seen in the chisel, although not to the same degree. There also seems to be a split at the corner at what I can only assume is a lamination line.
I’ve heard it said that you can make a laminated tool if you’re willing to go to the extremes that Japanese toolmakers are willing to take, but for your garden variety tools, that sort of process would be too expensive and labor intensive to do, which is why the western toolmaking world has gotten away from laminated steel construction in favor of modern day tool steels. These tools would suggest otherwise.
Remember, these are regular carpenter’s tools made in China during the 1900’s. Yet the toolmakers of that time still thought enough of this approach to toolmaking that they took the time and effort to do so, and the woodworkers of that era still bought the tools, despite the relatively poor pay for workers of that socioeconomic class in China.
In light of Chuk Tang’s terrific video series on fixing up a used Japanese plane, here’s a nice observation on Japanese planes while rehabbing a Stanley #29 transitional by chiisai-fukurou:
Every time I have to tamper with an old European or American/British plane I learn to appreciate Japanese planes a bit more (^-^;)
I mean they don’t need a handle, no difficult fixtures and no screw that annoys me every time I need to get out the chip breaker or the blade :D